It's all about water

September 1, 2012

“It’s all about water here, isn’t it?”, my wife says, in a moment of realization.  “Swimming in the lake, the sauna, wash buckets to and from the lake, well water”.

Indeed it is all about water in Finland, where we retreat to every summer.  Her family’s lake house is off the grid -- the water grid that is.  So life, which is a cycle of water (and energy), slows.  Without a tap, toilet, or shower, water re-emerges to its primary role in life.

We look forward each year to the “reset button” that the middle of Finland provides us.  It’s a slowly pressed button that takes a few days to fully work. But it is no magic, really, but a sequential sloughing off of the “dead skin” accumulated across days of too much laptop typing, supermarket mazing, and automobile maneuvering. 

Each jump into the silty, brisk lake.
Each prolonged sweat in the birch driven sauna.
Each rye bread with cucumber.
All work to slowly strip away and slough off the stress and slurry of modern day life.

As a sustainability professional, it also allows me time to think more clearly, to meditate on my work and on connections that I may have missed before.  This year in Finland, I kept returning to the phrase, “If you take all, you will have none left.” 

It is really the core point of sustainability --> can we convert our global system to one where we no longer strive to take all?  Can we reach a point where our goal is no longer to sustain a minimum and but to strive for a maximum amount of natural resources sustained and revitalized?

And how does one feel and understand this?  For me, it is to put myself in a situation where a key necessity is limited or difficult to get, like water in Finland.  The result is that life slows and is simplified.  It helps me get the proper perspective on how to protect, sustain, and improve the things we need most in life.

My recommendation to business leaders -- consider a sustainability-centric retreat to formulate your plan for improving your company’s sustainability approach, implementation and communications.




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